It's been a difficult week for members of the LGBTQ community. Tuesday marked the beginning of arguments made in the highest court in the land that could potentially bring about historic changes. If things go well, the rights of LGBTQ employees could end up being protected under federal law. If they don't, those same people could face more and more discrimination in their future. It's a terrifying thought, isn't it? That your rights as a human are standing in the balance. So as the Supreme Court continues to hear these LGBTQ rights cases and make rulings over the next few months, it's important to remember to spread love and kindness. Especially to young people who have no clear view about what their future might hold.
On Tuesday, Oct. 8, Supreme Court justices heard arguments from employers and LGBTQ rights groups about whether or not a civil rights bill from 1964 called Title VII protected LGBTQ employees from workplace discrimination, according to PBS. Title VII was enacted initially to protect employees from being treated differently based on sex more than 50 years ago, but two separate cases were brought to the Supreme Court to argue that this act should cover sexual orientation and identification as well.
One of the cases involves two employees who were fired because they were gay, according to The Los Angeles Times, while the other case involves a funeral director who was reportedly fired after letting her employers know she planned to be open about her gender identity in the workplace.
If the Supreme Court decides that Title VII should include laws barring discrimination against people for the sexual orientation or gender identity, it would be in line with a 2014 decision by the Obama administration. If not, it would uphold the reversal of that decision in 2017 by the Trump administration, which chose to end protections for employees in the LGBTQ community, according to CNN.
So much hangs in the balance right now. People in the LGBTQ community have to sit and wait right now to find out if they're going to be able to enjoy the same basic rights as so many other groups in the country. To work and live their lives without worrying that they will lose their jobs because of their sexual orientation. That they will be bullied, harassed, frightened, ostracized. And if the Supreme Court decides they aren't protected, it's essentially as though the government of their own country has sanctioned this ill treatment.
Whatever happens in the Supreme Court as the justices work to decide the fate of LGBTQ employee rights, the best thing we can do now is to practice love. Remind the LGBTQ people in our lives that they are loved and protected no matter what a court says, that we are in their corner. That, as LGBTQ advocate and actress Laverne Cox said on Tuesday, "people and our legislature need to make it clear that discrimination against anyone because of who they are should not be the way that we live our lives."
Social media users have also reminded others to spread the love and kindness as well. "Be kind to LGBTQ friends & family," comedian Dana Goldberg tweeted on Tuesday. "Our existence is up for constant debate and scrutiny."
"Sending love to my #LGBTQ brothers and sisters today, especially the younger generation who may just be learning that we're a community that is still vulnerable to the malfeasance of White Supremacy," actress Heather Matarazzo wrote on Twitter. "We're fighters, we're beautiful, and we are fucking worthy of existing."
Right now is the time for us to practice kindness, especially to kids who are probably frightened of what the future might hold. Whether you are a parent or a teacher, a family friend or an employer, make sure LGBTQ kids know you have their backs. It's important to remember that, according to national watchdog organization Children’s Rights, LGBTQ young people are more likely to experience discrimination, abuse, and neglect. So if they know that their community is rallying around them regardless of the outcome from the Supreme Court, it could help.
We all get to decide how we choose to treat people on a daily basis. And right now, especially, we need to choose love. For members of the LGBTQ community who are standing in the dark, waiting to find out if anyone will ever turn on a light.